Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Denis Diderot

French Encyclopedist, Philosopher, Author and Art Critic

"I believe in God, although I live very happily with atheists... It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley; but not at all so to believe or not in God."

"I am wholly yours - you are everything to me; we will sustain each other in all the ills of life it may please fate to inflict upon us; you will soothe my troubles; I will comfort you in yours."

"I discuss with myself questions of politics, love, taste, or philosophy. I let my mind rove wantonly, give it free rein to follow any idea, wise or mad that may present itself. ... My ideas are my harlots."

"I do not know what the rules, unless it is called the Rule, which is attributed to others, not himself. I think so, and I could not refrain from doing otherwise."

"I do not like to talk about the living, always a man must blush for what they say about them, good or bad: good to spoil, an evil that fix."

"I let my mind rove wantonly, give it free rein to follow any idea, wise or mad, that may present itself.... My ideas are my harlots."

"I have often seen an actor laugh off the stage, but I don’t remember ever having seen one weep."

"I like better for one to say some foolish thing upon important matters than to be silent. That becomes the subject of discussion and dispute, and the truth is discovered."

"If exclusive privileges were not granted, and if the financial system would not tend to concentrate wealth, there would be few great fortunes and no quick wealth. When the means of growing rich is divided between a greater number of citizens, wealth will also be more evenly distributed; extreme poverty and extreme wealth would be also rare."

"If you want me to believe in God, you must make me touch him."

"I picture the vast realm of the sciences as an immense landscape scattered with patches of dark and light. The goal towards which we must work is either to extend the boundaries of the patches of light, or to increase their number. One of these tasks falls to the creative genius; the other requires a sort of sagacity combined with perfectionism."

"If there is one realm in which it is essential to be sublime, it is in wickedness. You spit on a petty thief, but you can't deny a kind of respect for the great criminal."

"If your little savage were left to himself and be allowed to retain all his ignorance, he would in time join the infant’s reasoning to the grown man’s passion, he would strangle his father and sleep with his mother."

"If there were a reason for preferring the Christian religion to natural religion, it would be because the former offers us, on the nature of God and man, enlightenment that the latter lacks. Now, this is not at all the case; for Christianity, instead of clarifying, gives rise to an infinite multitude of obscurities and difficulties."

"Impenetrable in their dissimulation, cruel in their vengeance, tenacious in their purposes, unscrupulous as to their methods, animated by profound and hidden hatred for the tyranny of man - it is as though there exists among them an ever-present conspiracy toward domination, a sort of alliance like that subsisting among the priests of every country."

"Instinct guides the animal better than the man. In the animal it is pure, in man it is led astray by his reason and intelligence."

"In any country where talent and virtue produce no advancement, money will be the national god. Its inhabitants will either have to possess money or make others believe that they do. Wealth will be the highest virtue, poverty the greatest vice. Those who have money will display it in every imaginable way. If their ostentation does not exceed their fortune, all will be well. But if their ostentation does exceed their fortune they will ruin themselves. In such a country, the greatest fortunes will vanish in the twinkling of an eye. Those who don't have money will ruin themselves with vain efforts to conceal their poverty. That is one kind of affluence: the outward sign of wealth for a small number, the mask of poverty for the majority, and a source of corruption for all."

"Isn't it better to have men be ungrateful, than to miss a chance to do good?"

"In order to shake a hypothesis, it is sometimes not necessary to do anything more than push it as far as it will go."

"It has been said that love robs those who have it of their wit, and gives it to those who have none."

"It is said that desire is a product of the will, but the converse is in fact true: will is a product of desire."

"It is not human nature we should accuse but the despicable conventions that pervert it."

"It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley, but to believe or not believe in God is not important at all."

"Jacques said that his master said that everything good or evil we encounter here below was written on high."

"It is the man who is cool and collected, who is master of his countenance, his voice, his actions, his gestures, of every part, who can work upon others at his pleasure."

"Let us strangle the last king with the guts of the last priest."

"Justice is the first virtue of those who command, and stops the complaints of those who obey."

"Man is born to think for himself."

"Man was born to live with his fellow human beings. Separate him, isolate him, his character will go bad, a thousand ridiculous affects will invade his heart, extravagant thoughts will germinate in his brain, like thorns in an uncultivated land."

"Los likes to walk through the winding roads. Blame it on the first time that he lied, but over time it turns out that telling the truth."

"Man was born to live with his fellow human beings."

"Morals are in all countries the result of legislation and government; they are not African or Asian or European: they are good or bad."

"My ideas are my harlots."

"One declaims endlessly against the passions; one imputes all of man's suffering to them. One forgets that they are also the source of all his pleasures."

"One may demand of me that I should seek truth, but not that I should find it."

"Monasteries are they really so needed supplies for the foundations of a state? Did Jesus Christ monks and nuns?... What need of so many holy bridegroom is foolish virgins?... Is it God's will to see living in hermitage man who intended to live together with his peers? God who made ​​so fickle, so lightly, how can indulge boldly vows monasticism?... And all these sinister jobs that are related to wave or take testimony, when a man or woman are gifted monastic life and misery, it curb animal functions of man? Do not wake them, on the contrary, in silence, in violence and indolence, with a power unknown to those who live outside the monasteries?"

"Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."

"My ideas are my whores."

"My thoughts are my trollops."

"No man has received from nature the right to give orders to others. Freedom is a gift from heaven, and every individual of the same species has the right to enjoy it as soon as he is in enjoyment of his reason."

"No man has received from nature the right to command his fellow human beings."

"Nothing is duller than a progression of common chords. One wants some contrast, which breaks up the clear white light and makes it iridescent."

"Nothing is not as difficult to forgive someone, what its advantages."

"Only one step separates fanaticism from barbarism"

"Our observation of nature must be diligent, our reflection profound, and our experiments exact. We rarely see these three means combined; and for this reason, creative geniuses are not common."

"Only a very bad theologian would confuse the certainty that follows revelation with the truths that are revealed. They are entirely different things."

"People who repeat something twice, it fools the fools with those who listen to them"

"Patriotism is an ephemeral motive that scarcely ever outlasts the particular threat to society that aroused it."

"Philosophy is as far separated from impiety as religion is from fanaticism."

"People praise virtue, but they hate it, they run away from it. It freezes you to death, and in this world you've got to keep your feet warm."